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The Shooting Star: What does the original French title mean?

#1 · Posted: 3 Nov 2007 10:01
Yesterday I was reading the novel River Rising.
There is a ship in it which has names both in English as well as French. The English name is The Shooting Star, while the French name is L'Étoile Filante.

After that I saw on the net that the french title of the Tintin book The Shooting Star is L'Étoile Mystérieuse, which I know doesn't translate to Shooting Star in English (I suppose it would be The Mysterious Star.

And also that the French word "filante" means star in English. So am I right in all this? People who know French answer me.

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#2 · Posted: 3 Nov 2007 16:24
My French is limited, but a bit of googling reveals that "filante" means "thread-spinning" in French. (I'm guessing the word connects somewhere to the latin root of the English word filament.) So etoile filante literally translates to mean a star with thread spinning out the back, which is quite a good description I suppose.

Of course the thing that falls to earth in the Tintin book isn't exactly a regular shooting star - ie: a meteor briefly burning with friction-generated heat as it passes through the earth's atmosphere. The meteor in this story is observed to be aflame for many hours before it reaches the earth's atmospere, when it's still out in space, more like a comet. So maybe Hergé was deliberately making it clear that this wasn't supposed to be a normal shooting star, when he picked L'Etoile Mystérieuse instead of L'Etoile Filante as the book's title.

Do people think the English translators were right to change it, or would a more exact translation - The Mysterious Star - have been a better title?
#3 · Posted: 5 Nov 2007 17:21

You're exactly right!

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